Let’s face it, we’ve all held on for way too long…
Maybe it was a relationship, a stepping stone in our career that became a prison or a way of being that we simply started to think it was who we were.
In this post, I’ll address why we have so much trouble letting go and how to surrender and trust to the transformative power of change, taking us to places we could have never imagined.
The Day I Broke Off A Part Of Myself
I walked into my office that morning, and it looked like a jail cell.
Where pictures once adorned the space, it was empty…and the walls were bare.
This square, windowless box was a place where I had poured my heart and energy out for what seemed like decades.
It was a place where:
I crafted huge visions.
I had brutally tough conversations.
I had life changing insights with others.
I could retreat and collect myself.
Furthermore, it felt like family, as odd as that may sound — I’d spent so many holidays, weekends, sunday mornings and late nights there.
This was the last time I’d be here and I let it out…uncontrollable emotions, knowing I had moved on from this little room in this massive gym and community I had created, yet I had let go of.
Who We Believe Ourselves To Be
Time is a powerful force and compounds the effect something has on our lives simply by building layers.
Every few months, another layer is built, and another.
These layers begin to become our identity or who we believe ourselves to be.
Our identity is tightly wrapped around things like our ethnicity, our work, our hobbies, our friends and family, our habits, choices, where we live, our life experience, our possessions, etc.
These layers build and build, and once we’ve crossed a threshold — it becomes very tough let go, almost impossible.
We’ve all known that couple who have been off and on for what seems like years, consuming endless time and energy for both parties and worst of all, never allowing themselves the gift of moving on.
Time Increases Comfort
Holding on to the pillars of our life is easy because it’s comfortable, it’s what we know, what we believe to be true.
I remember one of my favorite lyrics back when I was younger was:
It’s the not knowing that kills you.
And many times, when we’re on the verge of losing something or contemplating a transition, we default to a negative mindset that says:
What we have right now is better than whatever may be coming.
And the reason we believe this to be true is simple…we know what we have know, we can feel it, see it, sense it — yet what’s coming is a complete mystery and we lack trust as to what’s waiting for us.
Self Worth And Identity
When making any change, or big decisions, we ultimately go back to our own self worth which is closely tied to our identity.
For example, when I was letting go of my fitness business, I had a really high self worth with was closely associated with the identities of:
Being a business owner, having my own fitness sanctuary, running a business at a young age when my friends were doing shit they hated, having a staff of 10 people.
My self worth was tied to the above, because it had become part of my identity.
So, naturally, getting rid of any of the above would have an impact on how I felt about myself.
Death And Transformation
The universe has a funny way of making sure the things that are supposed to happen, ultimately happen.
That’s why we can look at situations in our past where we simply knew it was time to move on and let go, yet we resisted.
We knew it was time to quit the business, yet we plunked down another $25,000 because we wanted to believe in it.
We knew our relationship was over with and that the trust or spark couldn’t be regained, yet we got back together for the 7th time because, well, it had been 3.5 years.
We knew it was time to move on from our current social circle, yet we stayed in touch because we felt guilty for moving on.
And yet — a week, a month, a year or a decade later, the forces that had initially pulled us to leave and let go came back stronger, more forceful and more intense, like waves becoming tsunamis.
Who Am I?
Once you’ve released a part of your life that has consumed so much time, energy and space, you’ll begin to seek some answers to life’s endless questions.
I remember the day I woke up after parting with my fitness business, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I didn’t know what to do.
I had nowhere to be at 6:00AM, I had nothing to work on…
It felt like a death, like a divorce, like a part of me had died…which is part of any huge transformation involving our identity.
It’s the realization that we are not who we think we are, that hurts.
We realize we aren’t our gender, our income, our name, where we grew up, our relationships…
…we’re not defined by these things, yet they become our mental constructs.
So when we move on from one, or it gets pulled away — we go back to these everlasting questions:
Who am I?
What am I here for?
It’s of utmost importance to spend time alone once a part of your life has been transformed, changed, extracted — whatever you want to call it.
It’s tempting to fill our days with non stop action, avoiding the painful realization that things are different and seeking to numb those feelings of loss.
Yet, no matter how much you run around, you can’t escape the feelings and those need to pass through you.
That is why when you leave your executive job after a decade, it’s notwise to jump right back into a new project …instead, taking time to create space and creating experiences that allow you to connect to who you really are, are crucial.
Shifting Our Imagination
By far, the most important benefit of letting go is the creation and freeing up of time, energy, physical and mental space and the ability to allow something new and powerful to come in.
Because we become so focused on what isn’t anymore, it can constrict our ability to be open to new experiences, people, places and perspectives once our energy is no longer consumed by something.
This, too, can be uncomfortable …yet many times we can’t even imagine what our new reality may look like.
But then we fast forward 6 months, a year, 3 years and realize that there was a perfect order all along, and that we could have never imagined where we are today.
We simply weren’t capable of dreaming or believing or seeing this new reality, and that can’t be learned or trained, it has to be trusted and surrendered to.
Surrendering means giving up control and completely detaching from the way you think things should be, or even could be.
Look around your life and start to become aware of something you’ve been clinging on to that is no longer serving you.
Maybe it’s a small thing, such as a habit, or a way of being, or being involved in a social circle that you know isn’t for you.
Become aware of it and then have the courage to let go…because you’ll never imagine what’s on the other side.